Thursday, June 17, 2010

God Realization

Realizing God - that is considered the purpose of human life by many. What is realizing God really? Who is God? Where is He? Why do I need to realize Him? After everything I have to go through on a daily basis to survive and for the upkeep of the family when am I going to make time to realize God? So many questions and few if any constructive answers. It is easier to continue to live life and forget about God Realization.

God Realization is a way of life. It does not require us to know the answers to any of the questions that come up. All that is necessary is the urge to take the first step. Inquiry. The questions are necessary - the answers are already known to each of us. We need to put our little self aside and reach into ourselves to reveal the Truth. It is the putting aside of the ego that is by far the most difficult.

As a child the urge is faint because we have only recently lost touch with God and have found our little selves and are hungry to know more about it. We see flashes of the spiritual being in little children and more often than not we ignore it, or reprimand the child, or joke about it. We do this because we are afraid. We do not want to see this aspect yet and so choose not to see it.

Life is so much fun as we are growing up. There is little time for spirituality. The world offers us so much sensual pleasures that thinking about spiritual growth never enters our mind. It is when we start slowing down and taking our own inventory that we realize that all the worldly pleasures are not enough. There is something missing. There is a level of stress attached to materialistic living that shows us the fallacy of seeking joy outside.

We have many possessions but do not feel abundant. We are in the midst of loving people but feel lonely. We have a large network of friends and family but feel disconnected. This, at first, pushes us towards acquiring more - things, friends, activities - but soon we realize that none of these fill the void. That is when the search begins. This is not related to age. It is a level of spiritual maturity and can come upon us at anytime. Just that as children and even young adults we are not independent enough to venture out of the world into the soul.

When we first feel the need to fill the void within is when God re-Realization begins. We discover that God is not out there. No man, no idol, no symbol, no ritual, no book holds God for us. God is in us. We are in God. God is not someone who blesses us or punishes us nor is he responsible for our destiny. It is with this acknowledgement that God Realization moves forward. Knowing what God is not is just as important as knowing what He really is.

Think positive. Attract abundance. Pray. All good advice but not enough. This acceptance is the next step to God Realization. The innate knowledge that I am a reflection of God can be very humbling. All the books and spiritual teachers talk about knowing oneself. Why? What good is that going to do me? It is only when I know myself that I know my own power to shape my destiny. I have read and heard that negative thoughts bring negative results and positive thoughts bring positive results. But can any one claim that this alone works one hundred percent of the time? I doubt it. There is another step that needs to be taken to guarantee results. Even if you think negative and this motivates you to take fearless positive action you will succeed in getting positive results. The actions you take are just as important if not more important than the thoughts. You can think about scoring a goal in a game but unless you physically execute the goal it will not happen. That is the law of the material world. The key to realizing God too lies in here. The opportunities we need to achieve anything is already present - what is lacking is our capacity to recognize them. It is through courage that we get insight and with insight that we take action and with action that we achieve. This is the path to be followed in achieving anything including self realization. Unless we surrender to the idea that we are potentially God how can we be courageous?

Thought and action in the moment. Action with an eye on the goal will not guarantee success. Thought and action with an eye on this moment and then the acceptance of the consequence of that thought and action is what God Realization is really about. When we have no fear of consequences because we are willing to be accountable - fully - for our own actions independent of what others are doing within that same thought and action is the moment when we have tapped into our greatest power and that is what God Realization is really about. It is as if the inner light has finally found a way out. It lights the way as we carry on living in the material world. Things, people, events - everything loses their power over us. We are overcome by a sense of peace and stresslessness. There is no answer out there it is all in us and has always been there. Books and teachers just keep the inquiry alive - a major aspect of God realization. But unless we can step into the realm of our own spirit, God cannot be realized. The miracle of life is not God Realization. The miracle of life is that we all survive in the material world inspite of being so alienated from ourselves. This is possible only because each of us knows who we are - we just acknowledge it at different times and use different methods.

Losing the little 'I' paves the way to finding the real I. Living with gusto in the moment is the best way to put the little I aside. For as long as this ego is ruling us we cannot bow our heads and see ourselves. When we do not let the ego rule us is when we get glimpses of the God within. The longer you can stay focused on the moment (not thinking about the past memories or anticipating future results) the faster you can find your own center. Once you have found it and established yourself in it life becomes blissful. Nothing you hear, see or experience can push your buttons. There comes a sense of mental stability that makes life what it is meant to be - a journey homeward. Where is home? Where Love, Peace, Abundance, Wellbeing and Oneness resides. Where Silence speaks and Light is our companion. Where nothingness is everything and death is a continuation of life. Where there is no beginning and no end. Home is unending bliss.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Living in the NOW

Why is it that when a member of a family dies those left behind are left feeling orphaned? Why is it that when one does not win the lottery one feels despondent? Why is it that when one loses a job one becomes desperate? Why do we panic when a child does not pick up the phone when you call him? If happiness is a state of mind why then is it so hard for us not to be greatly affected by these extraneous factors?

The secret to happiness does lie outside us - that is why. The secret to happiness is tied in with time. For as long as we are a slave to time we will not be able to find that inner happiness. Since we live in the world and have to live by the clock that is ticking on the wall or on our wrists we have to value time. What we forget is that the clock and watches all around are also only showing us time NOW. Why then do we persist on keeping our mind's busy with the past and the future? That is the time that is outside - the past and the future are what takes away the power of happiness from us.

Don't get me wrong goals are important - planning is essential - but only so they can make THIS MOMENT good. Once we attach ourselves to our intended goals and plans any deviation causes us pain. We have to be able to keep our plans and goals aside and live in the moment if we wish to achieve those same goals. Keep the eye and the mind only on the ball and the swing and the follow through will happen. Take your eye off the ball and put your mind on the hole and you lose control over the swing and the follow through.

Death is painful because we want more time with the person who has gone. We did not make the most of the moments we had with them. We regret the past or regret we did not do enough with the past. The past is gone and will never be back and the future is a figment of our imagination. Live every moment with your loved ones and relish that moment. If you cannot be with them physically keep them in your prayers and wish them the very best always. Their leaving then becomes a continuation of the same prayers and wishes. When we apply ourselves fully to our job only giving it our very best then the time spent at work becomes fun. What does it matter what others think of you or what they 'do to ruin your day?' A job is God's work too. Just like the nanny who knows that the master's child is not her own but still cares for it like her own. She knows fully well that when her services are no longer needed she will have to move on to another home, another child. Is there a point in expecting anything from the child? This is actually true even for parents. Our children are God's gift to us. They are here for us to care for and nurture - then let go so they can be of service and live their own life purpose.

Lofty ideals? No - just spiritual truths. Honoring the NOW is what happiness is about. There is only now - it is only the so called intelligent mind, the slave of the ego that keeps taking us away from it. Watch it, become aware of its power over you and bring yourself into this moment to live life fully.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Death

Imagine a hale and hearty person having a fun time with friends and family - the last thing on anyone's mind is death. But suddenly he is gone. His heart stopped beating. What happened to this person? He was here and now he is gone. That is all the one's left behind know. His wife, children, grand children, relatives and friends are left wondering how and why this happened and how life is going to be from this moment forward. At first there will be much to do to deal with the formalities but then there will be this void that will pronounce his absence with a lot more force. With time we will all adjust to one less person in our midst and cope with the loss - each in our own way. All of this I understand. I have seen it happen and have dealt with it first hand in the past and will deal with it again. The question that I am confronted with this time is - where did this angel of a man go? He was my uncle - my father's brother. I had the privilege of spending some great times with him as a teenager. His presence always brought a lot of joy. He had an infectious smile and a laugh that shook his whole body. In his presence one had to feel loved.

Over the last little while I have realized the place of Oneness in my life. I feel the presence of my father in my life even though he passed away almost 35 years ago. I feel him not in the sense of missing him but more as the impact his presence in the worldly body made on my life. The impact was not made by his physical presence though - it was something deeper and more subtle. This presence never leaves us. That is the importance of this worldly living to me. That is why service towards others is so important. That is why being kind and compassionate and caring is paramount while we are living. I have always wondered why people talk so highly of people who have passed on even if they had not done so while they were living. I understand now that souls touch only at the level of virtue. Egos are indiscriminate. When the physical presence is gone all that is left is the presence of the virtuous soul and it is impossible for the ego to feel any fear from this person and it conveniently forgets the negatives. When we project the virtuous soul into the world when we are living we become love, incapable of causing fear for others or for ourselves. That is how we overpower ego and let spirit rule our life.

Death is the absence of the soul from the body that it had taken on to enjoy the experience of worldly life. Death is the continuation of life without the form. Death comes when we no longer need the body to express the virtues of the soul. Death is an awakening that is supremely blissful. If we open ourselves to the Presence then we do not suffer the pain of absence. The soul is peace personified and so I refrain from saying rest in peace. My eyes may miss his smile, my ears may yearn to hear him laugh but I will always feel his presence for he has always been in touch with my soul and will continue to do so. His love will stay on with me as it will with all those who knew my Shankar Kaka.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Authenticity

The knowledge is often not enough. Intelligence is a strong aspect of the human mind but often fails to help us practice what we know. Reading books, listening to lectures, meditating, and even talking about subjects spiritual does not make one spiritual. The knowledge may all be there but living a spiritual life full of virtue may still be difficult. As an outsider looking in this is difficult to understand. How can a person who is talking about God, chanting God's name, meditating, praying, attending sermons still be afraid to trust others or even stoop to gossiping, lying and cheating? Where is the disconnect? When we are not in touch with the real 'I' we cannot live the life that the intellect believes is possible.

Imagine going into an office of a person of authority and seeing a display of an elaborate altar right in the office and then imagine the officer asking for a bribe to do what he is being paid to do. Not uncommon. Imagine going for a religious function and hearing people sitting there gossiping about their neighbor. Imagine going to a sermon and thinking about what is for dinner after the sermon. One is not worse than the other. They are all symptoms of the same thing.

We who claim to be spiritual actually are talking about understanding what spirituality is all about. When I read about Swami Vivekananda and Sri Ramakrishna I can see that they are what being spiritual is all about. To them spirituality was not a virtue it was just who they were. It is who we all are but have not acknowledged. We talk about practicing spirituality not about being spiritual. We talk about not lying when we should just be speaking the truth because we cannot help but speak the truth. We talk about having no fear when we should be courageous because we have conviction in our knowledge of who we are. Virtue is not a quality it is who we are. Evil is good gone bad and that can be reversed - always, everytime because it means going back to the original. The first step needed is to want to be authentic and then use the knowledge to get there. It is not a change it is only an acknowledgement of who we are.

There is a story about Swamiji who lived an idealistic life. As a young man he and his friends played regularly in the garden of a neighbor. There was a large tree that they would climb up and make a lot of noise talking and laughing amongst themselves. The old man of the house had tried shooing the boys off, scolding them, complaining to their parents all for nothing. Eventually one afternoon he came out and stood looking up at the boys and told them that he had seen a monster in the tree and that this monster was capable of wringing the necks of little children. The boys were afraid and slowly started climbing down the tree. The young Naren continued to sit up on the tree and said, "Why are you believing him? We have been visiting this tree for years and have not once seen this monster - how is that possible?" The boys were not convinced. After all the old man - a man of authority had told them there was a monster. Naren was unconvinced and continued to enjoy the tree. A simple example of how much strength this young boy had in his own conviction. He refused to believe the story simply because it was told to him. He continued living his life with such conviction. He questioned and argued with his Guru Sri Ramakrishna for six long years before accepting his perfection and finally saying that everything good that he said were the words of his Guru and anything wrong were his own. Swamiji's life deserves to be emulated. He was courageous in every way - physically, morally and spiritually simply because he was deeply in touch with himself.

We lose virtue because of fear and so do those around us. We need to be sympathetic and forgiving towards ourselves and others and learn to see and acknowledge our true Self. What we see and abhor in others is really a reflection of our own weakness. We may manifest it differently but it is still a reflection of who we see ourselves to be. A nagging wife, a controlling husband, a truant teenager, an angry driver, a lying friend, an interfering parent they all reflect our fears if we are affected negatively by them. We must develop the courage to face them with conviction and so face our own fears as this takes us to our true Self and releases us of the fear. We do not need to be critical of others or ourselves but we do need to stand up for our own convictions and for truth without fear. Confrontation or avoidance pushes us further into fear. Courage allows us to stand tall and remain present without reacting or being afraid of repercussions. Listening with complete presence has the power to calm the environment around us enough that sensible conversation or action can follow.

We are invincible in Spirit. It is our ever vigilant ego that thinks we are destructible. Impermanence is a state of the ego not of the Spirit. Only when we destroy our ego can we recognize our true Self. The ego is a reflection of our Spirit but believes it is the real thing. Since it is only a reflection it has the fear of impermanence - naturally since it knows it does not really exist. The ego tries to prove its presence by attaching itself to things, people, emotions etc. All of these happen to be impermanent and ever changing and so we develop fear. When we can see through the ego we can see the real Self. That which is permanent, that which gives us life, that which never changes, that which is unaffected by anything is virtue personified. There is nothing right or wrong, good or bad, dark or light in the realm of the Spirit. That acknowledgement is the first step in our journey towards it. When we are non-judgmental we can look through ego and get a glimpse of the Spirit. We often see it in children and animals. They have not developed their ego and what we see in them is who we all are when we are stripped of our ego. We must stop labeling ourselves and others. We must accept that inherently we are all good.

Being authentic means being true to our inner being which means being courageous, being truthful, being honest, being faithful, being forgiving, being ethical, being giving, being loving, being compassionate, being peaceful, being accepting under all and every circumstance. It does not mean being godfearing for there is nothing fearful about God. It means being in communion with one and all and recognizing that we are all One.